When New Zealander Ella Monnery auditioned for season eight of The Voice, her powerful vocals landed her a place on Team Kelly Rowland.
To her surprise, she made it through the competition's battle rounds too. But after heading home for a production break before the playoffs round, in March 2020, everything changed.
"I remember when we were filming the blinds [blind auditions], we were all talking about this virus overseas. And two weeks later, the whole world had shut down," Ella, 24, tells TV WEEK.
At first, the production team tried to get Ella back into the country, but with hard border closers between Australia and New Zealand, it was impossible.
She held out hope right up until she got the devastating call from a producer.
"They said 'We're so sorry, there's nothing we can do," she recalls. "I was sitting in the car eating chicken nuggets, but I just started crying."
A year later, the singer is determined to show the judges Rita Ora, Keith Urban, Guy Sebastian, and Jessica Mauboy that she's back better than ever, but she admits that even though she's been in this position before this time around is way more nerve-racking.
"There was definitely more fear of, 'What if I don't turn a chair?' and 'Oh my God – I'm going to be a failure,'" she says.
"Last year, I was seeing how I went as the girl from New Zealand, but this year, I'm the girl with unfinished business who's going to fight for what she wants.
The Voice Australia airs Monday and Tuesday, 7.30pm, and Sunday, 7pm, on Channel Seven.